NAME AND SHAME. Restaurant service charges



  • surfcat
    surfcat Posts: 734 Forumite
    to robg:

    check your receipt and you'll probably find that's a VAT difference. I can't remember which way round but certain food groups have either zero or some VAT rating whether you are eating in or taking away. That's why in McDonalds milkshakes cost different amounts whether you eat in or out.
  • Becles
    Becles Posts: 13,167 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Photogenic
    There's something to do with VAT and food.

    I think it's, if you buy food and take it away, there is no VAT on it. However if you buy food and eat in, it's VATable.

    There's other loopholes too about hot and cold food like pies. Something like if you buy a cold pie it's not VATable, but if they heat it up they have to charge VAT.

    'Luxury' food is VATable too, but plain everyday food isn't. There's another loophole where a plain biscuit would be VAT free, but the same biscuit coated in chocolate is VATable.

    Long time since I covered this, so hope someone can make sense of my ramblings!
    Here I go again on my own....
  • student100
    student100 Posts: 1,059 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Yes, most foods are not VATable, unless they are a "supply in the course of catering" rather than the simple sale of food. Supply of food in a restaurant or supply of hot takeaway food is VATable, but supply of most cold takeaway food is not considered catering hence is not VATable.

    Hence a BigMac costs the same whether you eat in or take away (it's hot), but a doughnut (which is cold) is only VATable if you eat in. The price difference is VAT and is nothing to do with cleaning.

    However, just to complicate matters, a McFlurry is ice-cream, which is always VATable, even when it's a cold takeaway food or when you buy it in a supermarket. So a McFlurry will be the same price whether you eat in or take out.

    [Other food items which always incur VAT, include chocolate coated biscuits. McVities went to a lot of trouble to prove that a Jaffa Cake is a cake and not a biscuit - bizarrely cakes do not incur VAT whereas biscuits do...]

    If you really want to know all, see this and this from HMCE.
    student100 hasn't been a student since 2007...
  • Poppy9
    Poppy9 Posts: 18,833 Forumite
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    There was a rumour that the Chancellor had his eye on putting VAT on all food and childrens clothes. Nothing in todays budget - but it is the pre election budget!
    :) ~Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.~:)
  • Lorraine_Turner
    ??risp]you need to put html tags around it like you have above.


    Hi Rachael

    I didn't use any HTML, I simply typed in the text starting http etc. and it happened automatically. However, it wouldn't do the same in my signature. I've had a go at using some HTML in my signature, and here's the result below. It seems to have worked now, so thanks very much.
  • Crankshaft_2
    [I take the Opinion, being in the trade, that discretionary service charge, pre added to your bill, so YOU must request it's removal (and therefore sound cheap) is the most disgusting attribute to the British restaurant scene.]

    I went out last night to the Sofra Turkish restaurant in Covent Garden. 12.5% was added at the end of the bill marked as a service charge, not a discretionary service charge. I asked the waiter if it was mandatory, and he said it was not so I asked for it to be removed then we tipped by cash at the table. It annoys me that they just add it, as a presumption that we want to pay it.
  • boblevin
    boblevin Posts: 49 Forumite
    Well said, Crankshaft.
  • reen_3
    reen_3 Posts: 81 Forumite
    i missed this discussion the first time around, but as the topic is near and dear to my heart, i thought i'd add my $0.02.

    having worked for 4 years in restaurants and bars in central london, i have learned a number of things that i think everyone else should know. at the very least, it would make my life much easier.

    1) a service charge is not a tip. it's a way for restaurants to keep prices down. you pay for service the same way as you pay for the clean tablecloth. even if it wasn't listed separately, you'd still be paying it, as you've always done. more often than not, your server gets none or only a small part of that money. people who complain about restaurants who add a service charge and then leave space on the bill for a tip clearly miss this point. a tip is to reward the server for doing more than simply taking your order and bringing out the food ('cause that's all they are paid to do). did she laugh at your bad jokes? did he hold the table for you though you were 30 minutes late? did she play with your bratty children? (trust me, no kids are cute once they enter your restaurant.) give you directions to the theatre? patiently listen while you modified every single item that you ordered? if the service was good enough for you to say 'thank you' at the end of the meal and mean it, then you should tip. 10% is ok. 15% is good. 20% makes me smile.

    2) the word 'optional' (as in 'an optional serbice charge') does not mean that it's optional. it's for tax purposes. without it, the restaurant would have to pay VAT on it. i'm all for screwing over the greedy owners by refusing to pay it, but you need to keep in mind that there's a good chance that the server will get in trouble over it. the manager would want to know what the server did to displease the customer.

    3) always, always, ALWAYS tip in cash. pay the service charge, don't pay it, it's up to you. but always tip in cash.

    4) if you can't afford to tip, then you can't afford to go out. simple as that.

    5) 20% makes me happy.

    6) servers remember good tippers, but they remember the bad ones even more. so the next time you're waiting 20 minutes to be served at your favourite restaurant...

    7) 20%.
  • IvanOpinion
    IvanOpinion Posts: 22,215 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post Combo Breaker First Anniversary
    reen wrote:
    i1. 20% makes me smile.
    5) 20% makes me happy.
    7) 20%.
    For 20% I would be expecting you to do my washing and ironing and redcorating at least one room in my house ... that would make me smile. I am willing to settle for making you moderatly happy with about 10-15%. :D

    Past caring about first world problems.
  • Poppy9
    Poppy9 Posts: 18,833 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    You say a service charge is not a tip it keeps prices down. How does it keep prices down if you say its not optional (well only for tax evasion reasons). If its compulsory add it to the menu prices. The end cost is the same. If a meal costs £20 + £2 service charge thats £22. If the meal price is increased to take account of service element then the price of the meal is £22. Increasing the price of the meal is more open and straightforward for customers.
    a tip is to reward the server for doing more than simply taking your order and bringing out the food ('cause that's all they are paid to do)
    As with any job you expect it to be executed with grace and good manners. Why should I pay extra for a smile:rolleyes:
    if you can't afford to tip, then you can't afford to go out. Simple as that
    Not true. Customers just want to know the cost plain and simple. Not the menu price plus 10% service charge and 20% tip.
    20% makes me happy
    Someone giving me 20% on top of my wages for doing my job which I am paid to do would make me happy too:D

    Earlier in the thread there was much discussion about the low pay of some service staff. Employers should pay a fair wage for a fair days work. They shouldn't expect staff to be reliant on customers to make up their wages because as you are no doubt aware many people dislike the tipping tradition.

    It always makes me laugh when shops at Xmas put a box on the counter for you to tip the staff. I think I will put one on my desk in work this year. What do you think. Questions from colleagues in same dept. 10% of the value of the question. Questions from colleagues in other dept. 15% of the value of the question. External callers 20%. Of course this will only be payable if I give them the correct answer but as I work in LA finance dealing with multi million pound items I will be loaded. I think I should tell the people in HB and Council Tax to adopt the same system. They can remember bad tippers when they reband CT and ressess HB claims:p
    :) ~Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.~:)
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